Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sulawesi is a large island, extraordinarily contorted in shape, lying between Kalimantan and the Maluku Island group. Tana Toraja is located in the South Sulawesi Province and the traditional culture of the Torajans rivals any in the archipelago, making this area one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia.



Believing that their forefathers descended from heaven in a boat some twenty generations ago, the Torajans have a unique Christian animist culture. Their ancestral worshiping includes elaborate death and after life ceremonies, which are essentially great feasts. A strict social hierarchy is followed in the villages and an important wedding or funeral can take days to perform. Water buffalo and pigs are sacrificed in numbers appropriate to social rank, and the deceased's remains are placed in a coffin and interred in caves hollowed out in high cliffs. The mouth of the cave is guarded by lifelike statues, called Tau Tau, who look out from a balcony near the burial caves, watching over the families and friends they have left behind.

Tongkonan, the family houses, are built on stilts with the roof rearing up at either end, representing the prows of the first ship to arrive in the area with the Torajan ancestors. The houses all face north and some say that this is because it was from the north that the ancestors of the Toraja came. Others however will say that the north is regarded as the realm of the gods, on the compass of life.


A large tongkonan can take a crew of ten about three months to build and another month to carve and paint the outside walls. Bamboo scaffolding is erected for the duration of the construction phase. The distinctive curved roof shape is obtained through a series of vertical hanging spars supporting upwardly angled beams. A vertical free-standing pole supports that portion of the ridge pole extending beyond the ridge. In larger Tana Toraja villages, houses are arranged in a row, side by side, with their roofs on a north-south alignment with the front gable facing north. Opposite each house is the family's rice barn, or alang customarily a symbol of family wealth, and together they form a second row of parallel buildings.



Friday, June 6, 2014


1. The Madera Wood Bathtub

This free-standing wood-carved bathtubs brings sculptural beauty to your bathroom. The laminated layers of wood create a pallet of textures that makes each bathtub unique. The Madera Bathtub is polished and oiled for a high-quality finish. This bathtub is available from WS Bath Collections in brilliant woods like larch, beech, mahogany, cedar, cherry, walnut, wenge and teak.

2. The Hilo Bathtub

This unique acrylic freestanding bathtub by Glass Idromassagio is majectic and powerful, yet elegant. The textural linear outer casing is the most visually interesting feature and makes it stand apart from other freestanding tubs.
3. The Wood Finish Bathtub

This wood finish bathtub by Bleu Nature is an artful combination of man meets nature; organic elements and modern finishes, mixing in sweet harmony. The Baignoire Stone Pixel tub stands out with its natural driftwood adornments, arranged in an earthy motif to balance the ultra-contemporary lacquered metal, all set on a bold, broad bathtub shaped to suit any space. The collection also includes a matching light fixture, featuring the same silhouette and natural facade wrapping a clean, white interior.

4. Manuel Dreesmann Bathtubs

Gone are the days of the utilitarian, boring bathroom – welcome the new wave of amazing bathtubs, from German designer Manuel Dreesmann and Swiss bathroom brand Bagno Sasso. The Ocean Wave and the Ocean Wing bathtubs are made of Corian, notable for their wonderful organic look and feel. Their sculptural silhouettes, featuring "waves" and "wings" - hence their names - boast a free-form aesthetic that seems to have a mind of its own, perfect for placement in the center of the room.

5. Splinter Works 'Vessal' Bathtubs

The 'Vessal' is mimics both a hammock and a bathtub for the ultimate relaxing experience. That's just what UK-based design group Splinter Works is aiming for with its latest slick elevated bathtub.

6. Stone Forest Bathtubs

If you wish a extraordinary plus unique bathtub, then you should surely choose to buy one from Stone Forest, where the planners can transform stone into astonishing bathtubs.

7. grinERA Bathtubs

grinERA produces solid wood bathtubs and hand wash basins from 100% wood. Their products can be customized from many different kinds of wood.

8. The Swaybath

Drawing inspiration from childbirth and the calmness and security within the womb, British designer Ben Mazur has come up with a unique bathtub called “Swaybath,” which is filled from the drenching showerhead above the tub, and emptied through a valve in the bottom into a drain below. The calming, gentle movement of the water and subtle swaying, turning motion combined with the embrace of the silicone tub as it molds around you to create a placental hideaway from the outside world.

8. The Egg Bathtub

Unico mixed a freestanding oval bathtub with some open storage space.

9. The Origami Bathtub

Stucco presents the Origami: a bathtub combined with four base units that is elegant, versatile and unique.

10.  The Carbon Fibre Bathtub

This incredible carbon fiber bathtub by Corcel seems to play with senses and to completely reevaluate one’s idea of taking a bath the calm way. Because what it inspires is speed in a straightforward way. Its appearance is unique, with black stripes that contribute to an original aerodynamic shape.

For more see:


If you start to read about a place like Ponte Tower, wherever you live will not seem that bad...

The Ponte Tower building in Johannesburg. Photo © flickr.
Peeking into Ponte Tower on a flying tour of Johannesburg. Photo © FlyJozi.
Ponte Tower is a 54-storey-high cylinder-shaped building that has been hovering over the skyline of Johannesburg since 1975. The sign on the top of the building is the largest sigh in the Southern hemisphere.

Looking up from the center of the building. Photo © David Southwood.

The inside core of Ponte Tower, looking up at the hallway windows. Photo © RabbitingOn.
Back in the day, this extraordinary building designed by Manfred Hermer, was one of the most coveted addresses in the city. In the midst of South Africa's Apartheid era, Ponte Tower became the emblem of the country's racial segregation. Laws requiring kitchens and bathrooms to have a window, therefore he decided to leave an open, 32,000 square foot inner core, which let light into apartments from both sides. Only wealthy white families were allowed to live in the outward-facing apartments, while the inner apartments were reserved for their black servants, who lived in partial darkness. They put retail stores at the bottom and had plans to include an indoor ski slope on the core floor. They built saunas and chrome bars in all the penthouses.

A glimmer of sun shining through the core of the building. Photo © Anderson KA.

After the fall of Apartheid the surrounding neighborhood, once an upscale area of the city, became consumed by crime. By the mid '90s, Hillbrow's murder and rape rates were worse than almost any place in the world. Despite the expansive views from every unit, the building became known for rats, guns, drugs and violence.

The Ponte Tower building in Johannesburg. Photo © flickr.
Many downtown building owners gave up on their properties when they weren't able to collect rent from tenants, or couldn't control the crowds of people forcing their way into each apartment. Some apartment complexes were "hijacked" by gangs who blocked owners from entering and forced tenants to pay them instead.

Garbage started to pile up in the courtyard that covers the first five floors of the building. In the late 90s, it was suggested that the structure be turned into a maximum security prison, but this idea was later discarded. At its lowest point, Ponte Tower became became known as "suicide central" because people committed suicide by jumping off from the center of the building.

The debris in the courtyard. Photo © StoryOfBing.

Today, the Ponte Tower is still the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa and remarkably, people are still willing to call it their home. However, there is hope for residents. In the past few years major improvements has been made to ensure the safety of the residents. In May 2007 Ponte changed ownership and a re-development project "New Ponte" was put in motion. Current resident, Manny de Costa states that even though Hillbrow is still considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world, the building itself is safe.

Currently a few renovated apartments called "Global Fusion" is up for sale. Developers are selling all of the units furnished, in styles that range from "Future Slick" – all red, black, and chrome minimalist – to "Glam Rock," with velvet, '60s-patterned furniture. The apartments sell from $80,000 to $150,000. Other plans for the building includes building an indoor climbing center, a huge child-care center, restaurants, spas and even a gym.

The view from one of the newly renovated apartments. Photo © StoryOfBing.

The interior of one of the newly renovated apartments. Photo © StoryOfBing.